Mammalian Biology

, Volume 72, Issue 6, pp 342–353 | Cite as

Seasonal activity patterns and movements of the raccoon dog, a vector of diseases and parasites, in southern Finland

  • Kaarina KauhalaEmail author
  • Katja Holmala
  • Julia Schregel
Original investigation


Activity patterns and movements of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) were studied in Virolahti, southeast Finland, in 2000–2003. Activity data were compared to those collected from Evo, south-central Finland, in 1990–1993. Activity in winter was compared to weather (temperature and snow depth), day length and moon. Also circadian activity rhythm was studied in Evo. Raccoon dogs moved fastest in late winter after winter dormancy and slowest in autumn before settling in their winter dens. In March, males were moving more often than females. Raccoon dogs stayed usually in their dens in mid-winter (December-February) but were sometimes wandering around also during the harshest months of the year and changed their winter den on average three times. Both day length and weather affected the activity of raccoon dogs in winter. Animals usually stayed in their dens, when temperature was below −10 °C, snow depth >35cm and day length <7 h and were moving around, when temperature was >0 °C, there was no snow and day length was >10 h. Day length and snow depth together predicted rather well the probability of animals being active during winter. Although raccoon dogs were more often active at night than during the light hours, they also showed rather much diurnal activity.

Key words

Nyctereutes procyonoides activity movements diseases Finland 

Saisonale Aktivitäts- und Bewegungsmuster des Marderhundes, einer Vektorspezies von Krankheiten und Parasiten, in Süd-Finnland


Die Aktivitäts- und Bewegungsmuster des Marderhundes (Nyctereutes procyonoides) wurden in den Jahren 2000 bis 2003 in Virolahti, Südost-Finnland, untersucht. Die Aktivitätsdaten wurden mit den entsprechenden Daten einer Studie von 1990 bis 1993 in Evo, südliches Mittelfinnland, verglichen. Des weiteren wurde die Aktivität im Winter mit dem Wetter, der Tageslänge und den Mondphasen in Zusammenhang gebracht. In Evo wurden ausserdem circadiane Aktivitätsrhythmen untersucht. Die Marderhunde bewegten sich am schnellsten im Spätwinter nach der Winterruhe und am langsamsten im Herbst vor der Winterruhe. Im März bewegten sich Männchen häufiger als Weibchen. In der Mitte des Winters (Dezember-Februar) blieben die Tiere normalerweise in ihrem Bau, wanderten aber auch manchmal in den härtesten Monaten des Jahres umher und wechselten ihre Schlafplätze im Schnitt dreimal im Laufe des Winters. Sowohl Tageslänge als auch Witterung (Temperatur und Schneehöhe) beeinflussten die Aktivität der Marderhunde im Winter. Die Tiere blieben gewöhnlich im Bau, wenn die Temperaturen unter −10 °C, die Schneehöhe über 35 cm und die Tageslänge unter 7 Std. waren. Wenn die Temperaturen >0 °C waren, kein Schnee lag und die Tageslänge über 10 Std. war, wurden die Tiere aktiv. Anhand der Tageslänge und der Schneehöhe konnte die Aktivität der Marderhunde im Winter recht genau vorhergesagt werden. Obwohl Marderhunde überwiegend nachtaktiv waren, zeigten sie häufig auch tagsüber Aktivität.


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde, e. V. DGS 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaarina Kauhala
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katja Holmala
    • 2
  • Julia Schregel
    • 3
  1. 1.Finnish Game and Fisheries Research InstituteTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiVantaaFinland
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluFinland

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